Monday, December 25, 2017

The Kindness Curriculum for Kids

The Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has designed a "kindness curriculum" for preschoolers.

Joanna McClanahan, writing for Scary Mommy, in "This Kindness Curriculum is Free and Should be Used in Every Classroom" says that participating in the Kindness activities supports kids in learning to manage their emotions and using empathy to develop their awareness of others' emotions.

For more about the Kindness Curriculum

Monday, December 18, 2017

IMPACT Chicago View of Empowerment Self-Defense

Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD) refers to an approach to both “What” and “How” we teach.
1. The “What” includes:
  1. establishing violence as a social, not an individual, problem and understanding violence as a means of maintaining inequalities and injustice*;
  2. holding perpetrators, not victims, accountable for violence;
  3. prioritizing using our bodies effectively (no matter our age, gender, ability, or size);
  4. valuing a range of tools (e.g. awareness, assessment, intuition, verbal, and physical) to address a continuum ranging from violence to disrespect, with strikes and kicks seen as tools of last resort.

2.  The “How” includes:
  1. creating emotionally and physically safe environments.
  2. infusing our curricula and pedagogy with the latest research on trauma, violence, and self-defense. For instance,researchers Hollander (2014), Senn (2015), and Sinclair (2013) have documented the effectiveness of ESD and resistance training.
  3. being mindful of the complexities and nuances of diversity and inclusion and being open to change.Some examples include: addressing women's leadership, addressing pronoun usage, avoiding gender binary language, recognizing gender non-conformity and fluidity; recognizing differences in risk (e.g. the higher rates of sexual abuse of young people, people with disabilities, and trans people) and the unjust criminalization of African Americans and trans people for defending themselves.**
  4. establishing and maintaining clear boundaries throughout our programs and in our relationships with students and other staff.
  5. incorporating new material as new issues become pressing (e.g. bystander support).

You can find more about the IMPACT Chicago approach to ESD by friending us on Facebook or checking out our blog where we regularly address issues relevant to empowerment self-defense. If you are interested in an IMPACT program for yourself, someone else, or an organization, please visit our website or contact Tara Brinkman, Registration and Workshop Coordinator.
* On a self-defense discussion Facebook page, Lisa Scheff, Paradox Self-Defense, asked:  "Do you think that self-defense classes must hit this [violence as a social problem and a means of maintaining inequalities] as part of their instruction to students to be considered ESD, or just that the instructor/organization needs to be informed by this perspective?"

My response on the FB page: "For me, ideally the idea of violence as a social problem and as a means of maintaining inequality will be both directly conveyed and also part of the framework. How an ESD instructor can convey these ideas will vary depending on a lot of factors. Some instructors use statistics to reveal patterns and variations, others create space for participants to share their own stories, others may explicitly state that violence is a social problem and that violence is used to maintain inequalities, and some may do all of the above and more. People are inundated with messages that violence is an individual problem and that mask ways that violence is used to maintain inequalities, so it can be powerful for us to create an environment where people can hear/experience/think about violence and self-defense in a bigger picture way."

**On the same FB page, Nadia Telsey, author of Self-Defense from the Inside Out and so much more, encouraged me to say more about intersectionality. Her request was followed by a statement from Melissa Soalt, Founder of Fierce & Female Self-Defense Training & Consultancy, questioning Nadia's connection of racism and sexual assault. My response on the FB page: "Melissa, your comment underscores why Nadia's request that I be more explicit in addressing intersectionality is important. Without more detail, its meaning can be misunderstood. Intersectionality is not equivalent to a focus on race but addressing race is critical to our understanding of sexual assault. Experience and statistics demonstrate that women as a group are at risk of sexual violence and they also demonstrate that how women are likely to be attacked (e.g. number of attackers, type of attack, location of attack) and how self-defense is framed and explained varies by age, class, disability, gender expression/identity, race, sexual orientation. It is extremely important in our work that we are prepared to address differences in attack & framing of self-defense. Addressing intersectionality does not diminish respect for or value of any woman’s experience but moves us toward offering effective tools and a framework that addresses the realities of all women’s lives. 

Martha Thompson
IMPACT Chicago Instructor
NWMAF certified self-defense instructor
Member, Empowerment Self-Defense Alliance
Participant, ESD Global Incubator 

Thank you to Lisa Amoroso, IMPACT Chicago Board Chair and Admin Team Co-Leader, and Tara Brinkman, Registration and Workshop Coordinator, for their comments on an earlier version of this blog.

Monday, December 11, 2017

IMPACT Online Survey: Help Shape IMPACT Chicago's Future

2018 marks the nine year anniversary of IMPACT’s social media presence. Think about that – in 2007 Facebook was just four years and Twitter was just one year old! Since then thousands of IMPACT graduates and supporters have engaged with IMPACT and it has been amazing to see how these sites have enabled us to share, connect, inspire, educate and grow.

But it’s been nearly a decade and a decade is a long time to keep doing the same thing. That’s why we want to start finding ways to improve our content and better connect with you. But in order to do that, we need to hear from you.

An IMPACT graduate has donated services from her consulting company, Cascade Reaction Consulting. They have put together a short 5 questions survey to help us learn more about your thoughts on IMPACT online.

It will only take a minute (maybe less!) but your answers will help shape the future of IMPACT.
Click here to take the short survey!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Being a Still Presence

Today I had to use the 5 Fingers of Self Defense, but in defense of another person.

I got on the train home and just after a few minutes a man became angry and started shouting obscenities at a woman sitting alone and encumbered with boxes directly across from him. His threats were violent and his body language suggested to me he was about to snap. She was stunned and terrified. One man spoke up, was shouted down by the angry man and he fled at the next stop.

I got up and walked to the woman and asked if I could join her in the empty seat next to her. She said "yes" and I sat down. Another man near me thanked me under his breath and also fled at the next stop. I said nothing to the angry man and made no threatening move towards him. I kept my bag loose and ready to use as a shield and prepared myself to intervene if the angry man continued his tirade and jerky movements. I made sure to say nothing to the man and keep myself neutral but alert and confident.

Once I sat he became still and quiet, glaring at me and then left after a few more stops before the train left the Loop. It took all my self-control to stay calm and loose but ready.

I made small talk with the woman after the angry man left and we discussed what happened. She wanted to scream and run from the man, and I don't blame her, his aggression was genuinely terrifying. But she said she thought that if she ran he would follow her and continued his abuse and possibly attack. I agreed, I felt that if I could inject my presence, a large man, as a buffer or a complication to whatever was on the man's mind I could stop whatever horrible story was about to unfold before me.

Sometimes that's enough to stop violence. Just being a still presence. Not threatening, no displays of power, just be there and support.

As to the other fingers, I "thought" by being aware of my surroundings and observing events unfolding before me. The other man tried to "yell" but that didn't work. She couldn't "run" but I could "run" to her aid, so I did. The fight never happened, and everybody is probably relieved about that. And this story is my "tell."

Christopher Lamitie
Advanced Green Belt
Thousand Waves Martial Art and Self-Defense Center